April 30th, 2010
09:14 PM ET

Gulf Coast residents brace for potential calamity

Officials anticipate that oil floating toward Louisiana is likely to reach land sometime Friday.

(Update 9:13 p.m.) EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said Friday there is a chance that workers will be able to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but warned that the EPA is preparing for the worst.

"There is still the opportunity and the possibility that they would be able to shut it down," Jackson told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "Of course as responders we have to look at the worst case, and keep planning for that."

Jackson's comments come as the federal government is ramping up the pressure on BP to do more to stop well leaks gushing thousands of barrels of oil into waters off Louisiana. The government is also pushing BP to beef up its response as a giant oil slick approaches the Louisiana coast.

In the interview on CNN's John King USA that aired Friday, Jackson responded to questions about the level of trust the Obama administration had in BP immediately following the April 20 oil rig explosion that also resulted in 11 presumed deaths.

"I don't think it was ever a question of trust in the company, I think it was a question of responding to the set of facts as we came to understand them," Jackson said. "The situation has certainly worsened. It began as a human tragedy, it is now what I think is an environmental challenge of the highest order."

(Update 7:42 p.m.) Sen. David Vitter announced the closure of several oyster beds in eastern Louisiana, but kept the western parts open, CNN affiliate WDSU reports.

The director for Rouses Supermarket, which has stores across the Gulf Coast, including southern Louisiana and Mississippi, said all seafood on the shelves is safe, according to WDSU.

"Everything that is coming into the markets and restaurants is coming from the west part of the Mississippi River," Seafood Director James Bruel told WDSU.

"Everything we get is traceable. Anything that comes through our back doors has an invoice of where it came from. Everything right now is 100 percent safe to eat," he said.

(Update 6:48 p.m.) U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has approved Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's request to mobilize 6,000 National Guard troops in response to the massive oil spill expanding in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Defense Department spokesman.

(Update 5:25 p.m.) The federal government is heightening the pressure on BP, pushing the oil company to do more to stop well leaks gushing thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and to beef up its response to the potential environmental impact on the coast.

"We'll continue to urge BP to leverage additional assets," U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told reporters Friday as the massive oil slick approached the Louisiana coast. "It is time for BP to supplement their current mobilization as the slick of oil moves toward shore."

BP, which owns the ruptured well, said officials expect oil to reach land sometime Friday, with Venice and Port Fourchon the first places likely to be affected.

Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP, said the company has had only three priorities since the April 20 rig explosion that led to the oil spill: stop the flow of oil, minimize its impact and keep the public informed.

"We've so far mounted the largest response effort ever done in the world," Suttles said at the same news conference. "We've utilized every technology available, we've applied every resource request. ... We welcome every new idea and every offer of support."

(Update 3:47 p.m.) U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ordered inspections of all deep-water operations in Gulf of Mexico.

The Department of Interior will also establish a new Outer Continental Shelf Safety Board to conduct a review of offshore drilling practices and safety issues and tighten the oversight of equipment testing, he said.

(Update 3:41 p.m.)  The American Bird Conservancy, the nation's leading bird conservation organization, released a list of key bird sites they say are most immediately threatened by the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.

They are: the Gulf Coast Least Tern Colony; the Lower Pascagoula River – including the Pascagoula River Coastal Preserve; the Gulf Islands National Seashore; Breton National Wildlife Refuge – including the Chandeleur Islands; Dauphin Island; Fort Morgan Historical Park; Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge; Eglin Air Force Base; Delta National Wildlife Refuge; and Baptiste Collette Bird Islands.

(Update 2:20 p.m.) A roundup of some of the latest developments:

- More than 217,000 feet of boom, or barrier, is assigned to contain the spill. An additional 305,760 feet is available.

- 139,459 gallons of dispersant have been deployed and an additional 51,000 gallons are available.

- Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama met with members of his Cabinet to give them the latest information on the oil slick in the gulf and to tell them to reach out to citizens and businesses that could be affected.

- Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway discussed oil-spill preparations with key  department heads and will ask the City Council to declare a state of emergency.

- Two Air Force Reserve C-130s from 910th Airlift Wing out of Youngstown  Ohio have arrived at Stennis Airfield in Hancock County Mississippi to help.  

- BP has set up a "Vessel of Opportunity" program for vessel owners to  offer their services to assist with response efforts.

- To supplement its Houma, Louisiana incident command post, BP is now establishing a similar onshore incident command post in Mobile, Alabama to  oversee the onshore response in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

(Update 2:12 p.m.) A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers to help with the effects of the oil spill. Here’s how you can help.

(Update 1:31 p.m.)  Attorney General Eric Holder is sending a team of Justice Department attorneys to the Gulf Coast to meet with federal prosecutors and response teams, the Justice Department said in a statement released Friday.

"The Justice Department stands ready to make available every resource at our disposal to vigorously enforce the laws that protect the people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers," the statement said.

(Update 1:10 p.m.) The oil spill could threaten hundreds of species of wildlife, some in their prime breeding season, environmental organizations said.

"The terrible loss of 11 workers (unaccounted for after the rig explosion) may be just the beginning of this tragedy as the oil slick spreads toward sensitive coastal areas vital to birds and marine life and to all the communities that depend on them," said Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, in a statement.

(Update 12:57 p.m.) Track the oil spill with this map and tell us how it is affecting you.

(Update 11:58 a.m.) President Barack Obama is ordering Interior Secretary Ken Salazar "to conduct a thorough review" of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent oil spill.

He said domestic oil production continues to be "an important part of our overall strategy" but said "it must be done responsibly for the safety of our workers and our environment." 

(Update 11:54 a.m) Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency in the Panhandle coastal counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf.

Officials anticipate that oil floating toward Louisiana is likely to reach land sometime Friday, with Venice and Port Fourchon, being the first places affected, said BP spokesman Mike Abendhoff.

Officials monitoring the Gulf oil spill have not yet confirmed reports that oil reached land in the morning hours. Full story

A roundup of other developments:

- Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency and asked the Defense Department to approve funding for the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops.

- Along the Gulf coast business owners are concerned about the potential impact on the bottom line. The oil slick coming ashore "would put us out of business," fisherman Rene Cross in Venice, Louisiana, told CNN affiliate WDSU. 

- Dave Rauschkolb who owns three restaurants on the Florida Panhandle says: "We are a seasonal economy.  If I don't have my summer business, I am out of business." Full story

Here are highlights from the latest briefing Friday by the Joint Information Center, which is coordinating response to the oil spill.

- Nearly 2,000 personnel are involved in the response

- More than 217,000 feet of boom assigned to contain the spill.  An additional 305,760 feet is available.

- To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 20,313 barrels (853,146 gallons) of an oil-water mix. 

- 75 response vessels are being used including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.

- Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines: Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; Venice, Louisiana; Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Theodore, Alabama. A sixth staging area is being set up in Port Sulphur, Louisiana.

- Winds on Friday are from the southeast at 20 knots Seas are 5- to 7- feet, with slight chance of afternoon showers.

soundoff (463 Responses)
  1. giggey43

    Why did Obama wait to long to react? His slow response should be held accountable for this mess. If people tried to blame Pres. Bush for Katrina, then we certainly should blame Obama for this mess. Shame...shame...shame...

    April 30, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AnyIdeas?

    In response to Sheldon Katchatag: "an IGNORANT Western Society that HAS NO Culture EXCEPT the 'Pursuit of the "ALMIGHTY Dollar)", if you mean by this comment the United States-I'm sorry you think that, but that's what happens when peoples from many different types of cultures are allowed to come here and enjoy the priceless freedom of this country.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carie Warren

    Amen Terry

    "Decent regulations, prudent restrictions...seem to be always oppossed by the Republicans"

    April 30, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. charles

    Drill, Baby, Drill... but use engineers who know what they are doing. Careers for some engineers and managers in the oil drill business are going to end this weekend.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    To get the Gulf Oil Spill under control, spray sawdust from Sawmills on the oil, it absorbs the oil and clumps together making skimming easy.It works! I just tried it in the backyard! The sawdust (unlike detergents chemicals etc.) is environmentally friendly.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Maryann Rose - Orlando FL

    Robert Gates? Obama's AND George Bush's Secretary of Defense was looking for WMD in Iraq?

    Didn't know he was doing that. LOL!

    If he was (which I doubt) You know why he didn't find them??? Because the Bush administration either LIED or had faulty intelligence.

    BTW – it is the Interior Secretary who is investigating the oil spill, not the Defense Secretary, as it says in the article.

    @Thomas Cook: a 'drilling rig' is what exploded. What was it doing if it wasn't drilling?

    April 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cyg

    Hey API Lady – Did you know the inventor of the Diesel Engine never intended it to run on Diesel Gas, or anything to do with Crude? You could substancially cut our use of oil altogether by running all Diesel motors on vegetable based oils – and put farmers to work. Hey American People – your being robbed by the oil and gas guys of America – brought to you by "The More You Know".

    April 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JH

    BP says they'll be paying for the oil spill, but States are already declaring State of Emergencies for the feds to release funding for cleanup. That funding comes from the taxpayers, so yes, big oil is getting bailed out by the US taxpayer with no end in sight. They can't even figure out how to stop the oil leak! So there is really no idea how much oil will be relased into the Gulf. Not only will it be taxpayer dollars footing a huge part of the bill, but our prices will be going up even more now for ANY product which relies in any way on oil. That includes the plastic in your computer and the foam in the chair your sitting on. There really is not much that we consumers "consume" that does not depend on oil. It's a vicious cycle.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    All I can say is this is a very unfortunite situation. I just had to cancel my summer vacation plans for Panama City Beach. Guess I'll have to spend my money somewhere else...lol

    April 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nucho

    Alternatives to oil must be sought vigorously. We can not continue to allow our planet to be ruined for the sake of profits. Congress and the President must ignore the influence of Big Oil and look to more effective and efficient alternatives such as;Algae- a better way to go!!

    April 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chris

    Why is the Fed pounding on BP so hard? Its Transocean that was managing the rig and had the shoddy maintenance that stopped the fail-safe from working.

    Blaming BP for the spill is like blaming the cattle farmer because your steak is overcooked.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sam

    I don't understand whey they did not set the ocean on fire to burn the oil. Which would have been less dangerous to the ennvironment.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gary Harbor Oregon

    a little while ago Rick mentioned something about the president making the oil spil his Catrina Rick just has to try and sture crap up .. this has nothing to do with Catrina or any other desaster its about the president doing his job and a good one at that , plus Jindal has improved in his comments . he is thanking the administration for any help the Government for the people can do to help with the oil spil plus its up to the BP oil to take the front in stopping the flow of sweet crued .. and it should not have happened in t ehrfirst place .. saftey flow valves should have tripped and stopped the oil from pushing up to the oil platform .. they are called MOV and trip valves.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    So how is that "Drill Baby Drill" thing working out for you now Sarah?

    April 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    Mr.Chris Triolo

    Excellent post and probably one of the only sound one I've read so far . As for the poster who complained that the Rep Gov. are now asking for Federal Help. Here is a flash for you The Gulf Of Mexico is the responsibility of the Federal Government.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
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